[Fis] [Fwd: Re: Information is a linguistic description of structures]--T...
loet at leydesdorff.net
Thu Oct 1 21:19:50 CEST 2015
From: Robert E. Ulanowicz [mailto:ulan en umces.edu]
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2015 7:11 PM
To: Mark Johnson; Loet Leydesdorff
Cc: Robert Ulanowicz
Subject: Re: [Fis] [Fwd: Re: Information is a linguistic description of
Dear Mark & Loet,
What Bateson described is a special example of a more general agonism that
traces back to Heraclitus, who saw reality as the outcome between two
opposing tendencies -- "one that builds up and another that tears down".
Of course, the tension is fundamental to Eastern thought as well (e.g., Yin
Dear Bob, Mark, and colleagues,
It seems to me that these general denominators are nowadays not specific
enough; the system(s) of reference have to be specified and we also are able
to specify what is integrating and what is differentiating. In general, one
can expect a trade-off between organization and self-organization of the
In the case of interhuman communication, I suggest that the codes of
communication are self-organizing and differentiating; whereas they have to
be organized by individuals reflexively in instantiations (action). The
self-organizing codes are second-order attributes to the communications (and
not the communicators), structural, and therefore selection mechanisms; the
differentiation drives the communication so that it can increasingly process
complexity. The trade-offs generate tensions.
I read Mark's comments as a reference to the tradition of the "Dialectics of
Enlightenment": when communication tends to take over control, this
generates also alienation at the level of the individual because the
communication differentiates, while the individual wishes to integrate. Marx
expressed this as the relation between exchange and use value: exchange
value is the reflection on the abstract market of "human" use value. The
market can be considered as an interhuman communication (exchange) system
guided by a symbolically generalized code of communication (e.g., price).
Capitalism is based on the inversion of the cycle Commodity-Money-Commodity
into Money-Commodity-Money (Geld-Ware-Geld).
Bateson is interested in personal development ("mind") and (organizational)
action. From the perspective of the communication, individual minds provide
the sources of variation. Variation is needed for further developing the
communication. Reflexively, action also reproduces structure and retains
organization. All these relations are to be further specified, in my
Finally, I would like to say that this is not a dialectics. It is
increasingly obvious that at least three mechanisms are needed for complex
systems formation; for example: triadic closure and the generation of mutual
information/redundancy among three or more dynamics. The vertical
differentiation in levels A., B, and C is also not incidental. In the case
of two, we obtain co-evolution models that explain mutual shaping, but not
yet complex systems that may go into crises, globalize, etc. Trialectics,
Triple Helix, .., etc.
PS. This was my second email for this week. L.
Professor Emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
<mailto:loet en leydesdorff.net> loet en leydesdorff.net ;
Honorary Professor, <http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/> SPRU, University of
Guest Professor <http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/> Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor, <http://www.istic.ac.cn/Eng/brief_en.html> ISTIC,
Visiting Professor, <http://www.bbk.ac.uk/> Birkbeck, University of London;
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